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Advocacy in Custodial Settings

Whilst in its infancy, People First is pleased to now be delivering advocacy services within HMP Holme House, following referrals made by staff in the Health Unit. Already, through delivering these services, our Advocates have worked alongside clients and peers to create impactful changes. Ensuring that clients receive care and support in settings that they feel comfortable in.

One example of this was through a referral received for a client with an advanced, progressive form of dementia who lacked capacity. The referral was to provide advocacy support through early release on medical grounds and a parole review meeting.

Working alongside the client, it was clear they were unable to share their views, give instruction or share their wishes in a specific situation. In this type of situation, we class this as a non-instructed advocacy referral.

To gather more understanding of the client’s behaviours and tastes, our advocates spoke with the clients’ peers who over time had observed a fuller range of information on the clients’ likes and dislikes regarding food and behaviors. Not only did this supply vital information to support this client, it also created a sense of purpose and a feeling of self-worth and acceptance for the peers of the client within Holme House, as well as providing invaluable information to share with relevant care professionals.

The outcome: the client was granted early release to a specialist nursing dementia residential setting under a Deprivation of Liberties Safeguard (DoLS) authorisation, ensuring his needs were met appropriately and in a timely manner. The result of this meant that the client was situated in an environment that had the specialist knowledge to support their complex needs and allowed them to feel comfortable too.

It is envisaged that in future, advocates will deliver training to peer mentors on the range of advocacy services available and how to access them. This will lead to greater confidence and engagement within the custodial setting, resulting in the peer mentors taking a lead in sharing this information amongst the wider population of the houseblocks.

This will serve to make advocacy more accessible for all in the long term.